Jury returns narrative verdict after coroner rules out possibility of unlawful killing

An inquest into the deaths of two people in a crane collapse in Battersea has cleared the crane-owner of unlawful killing.

Crane operator Jonathan Cloake, 37, and bus driver Michael Alexa, 23, both died after a crane collapsed in Battersea on September 26, 2006.

The inquest at Westminster Coroner’s Court heard how an incorrect page inserted into a manual led machine-owner Falcon Cranes to load 12 tons of concrete to the back of the crane, rather than the eight tons the model actually required to counterbalance it.

But the coroner did not allow the jury to consider a verdict of unlawful killing. She judged that the evidence did not demonstrate the causation necessary for an unlawful killing verdict.

The jury delivered a narrative verdict.

Jonathan Cloake died after being thrown from the cab of the machine as it collapsed, while Michael Alexa was crushed by the falling crane as he was cleaning his car in a neighbouring street.

Liliana Alexa, the mother of Michael Alexa, said: “I was really upset with the Coroner’s decision to withdraw the option of unlawful killing. It should be up to the jury to make up their own minds.”

She said she was considering the possibility of a judicial review, but feared the potential costs were prohibitive.

The inquest went ahead after the Crown Prosecution Service said they would not lay manslaughter charges following a five year investigation.